A 23-year-old who was fined for hosting a gathering during lockdown is demanding a refund after Prime Minister Boris Johnson admitted attending a party at Downing Street when restrictions were also in force.
Callum Harrison and his housemates were handed £100 fines after hosting a 10-person social event to celebrate a friend’s birthday in October 2020.
The graduate, who was a student in Newcastle at the time but now lives in Manchester, says the gathering was broken up by police, and that he paid the fine and admits breaking the rules.
However, after it emerged that Johnson attended a drinks party with Downing Street staff in May of the same year, Callum believes he deserves his money back.
He is now calling on the government to refund him, along with anyone else who was fined during lockdown.
Callum, originally from Northwich in Cheshire, said: "We had an eight man house and had two extra people over.
"One was a girlfriend of the housemate and the other was a guy who was at the time living on his own.
"We were drinking as it was a housemate's birthday, but it was hardly a party.
"Nothing like the Downing Street one anyway."
Callum said the group had been out to a number of bars earlier in the evening, before returning to the house in the Jesmond area of Newcastle.
At the time, a tier system was in place across the country, with the North East in Tier 2 – which meant household mixing was banned indoors unless people were in a support bubble.
Police later knocked on the door, with Callum unsure how they found out about their gathering.
"We were breaking the rules," he said.
"There's no question of that."
After seeing the news about government gatherings and parties, which has left Johnson facing calls to quit, Callum has been left feeling ‘annoyed’ - not least because at the time the rest of the country was banned from meeting more than one person outdoors.
Johnson has said he believed the gathering was a ‘work event’ that technically fell ‘within the guidance’.
He told the House of Commons during PMQs that he only attended the gathering – which 100 staff members were invited to – for 25 minutes, adding that in hindsight he 'should have sent everyone back inside'.
"It's very hypocritical and has broken any trust I had," Callum said.
"They have done what they told us not to do the whole time.
"You hear some of the stories of people not being able to see their families when they were ill, or attend funerals. Everyone's lives were affected and the people producing these restrictions were not following the rules themselves.
"It's tarnished my view of politics.
"People like me should get refunded."
Featured Image Credit: MEN Media
Topics: UK News